Of the successful applicants for the ‘golden handshake’ scheme for new GP partners, 20 were pharmacists, The Pharmacist has learned.  

No pharmacy technicians have been accepted onto the scheme so far.  

The British Medical Association told The Pharmacist’s sister publication, Pulse, that in the 19 months between the scheme’s launch and the end of January 2022, 1,360 applicants were admitted to the scheme and over £21.5m was spent. 

It said that an overwhelming majority of successful applicants were GPs – with 1,308 GPs, 25 nurses, 20 pharmacists, four paramedics, two physician associates and one physiotherapist accepted. 

The scheme which allows healthcare professionals to become GP partners – sometimes known as a ‘golden handshake’ – was opened up to pharmacists under the new GP contract in February 2020

The scheme offers first-time partners a £20,000 one-off payment, plus an additional £3,000 for business training under the New to Partnership Payment.  

Details from a Freedom of Information (FOI), requested by Pulse, NHS England revealed that of the successful applicants, 1,084 had received their £20k payment by 17 January. 

No applicants have received the £3,000 training fund to support the transition to practice partnership yet, it confirmed. 

‘Claims for training bursaries are made to applicants one year after they receive their welcome letter onto the scheme, therefore the first round of claims and payments will be in February and March 2022,’ they said.  

The FOI also showed that 43 of all applications had so far been rejected for being ‘ineligible’ between the scheme’s launch and 17 January.  

Of the 43 ‘ineligible’ applications, eight were due to the new partner having a ‘fixed-share’ role and 23 were due to partners having a ‘probation’ period before the scheme’s start date on 1 April 2020. Nine were because the applicant was deemed to have been a partner before April 2020. 

NHSE also said that there are currently 57 applications in progress and 89 applications awaiting further information before they can be approved. A further five applications have been withdrawn by the applicants themselves.   

When the scheme was announced, community pharmacists expressed concern over losing pharmacists to general practice, which many said risked ‘destabilising’ the sector

Currently, 12 healthcare professions are eligible for the scheme, which is due to end in March 2023 – GPs, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physiotherapists, paramedics, midwives, dietitians, podiatrists, occupational therapists, mental health practitioners and physician associates.